Supporting Employees’ Mental Health During a Crisis
By Bert Alicea, Executive Vice President, EAP+Work/Life Services, Health Advocate
During this incredibly challenging time, it is natural and normal for people to be experiencing higher levels of stress. Frequently changing circumstances, overwhelming information, and uncertainty about the future can all contribute to depression and anxiety, as well as exacerbate any existing mental health conditions. At Health Advocate, our Employee Assistance+Work/Life program is providing resources and guidance to help members cope under these unprecedented conditions.
We understand our members have a wide range of both new and ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic – managing the psychological effects of self-isolation, balancing working and educating children from home, and financial concerns, just to name a few. Health Advocate is committed to supporting our clients and members through this difficult time, and we are continuously creating new resources and ensuring our counselors and other experts are available to assist when we are needed most.
We have developed a series of materials to provide our members with tips and resources necessary to address many of the most common concerns emerging during this unique and stressful time. Among the variety of topics we are covering are –
- Supporting children at home
- Tips for working from home
- Combating social isolation
- Financial concerns
- Remote management tips for supervisors
We continue to look ahead to assess what our members will need next and create additional materials and resources to address those issues.
While flyers and reference guides are valuable resources, we also recognize the importance of interactive support right now, so we are hosting a number of webinars to connect with our EAP+Work/Life members and offer an opportunity to ask questions about how best to manage our mental health right now. Many of these are now available as recordings on our website including:
- Establishing Emotional Balance in Challenging Times
- Financial Impacts of COVID-19
- Caring for Your Elder During the Pandemic
- 5 Tips for Adjusting to Work from Home
- Managing Time Setting Boundaries
- Staying Visible and Connected When Working from Home
Our counselors and other experts are available to support members who call with questions or when facing difficulties. Understandably, we receive calls from members experiencing stress and anxiety related to the pandemic as well as the resulting fear of the unknown. Trying to balance work, family and other responsibilities while cooped up together at home can create challenges, and those people who are alone at home right now may be feeling isolated and lonely – both situations are difficult and may benefit from the help of a counselor. We are all experiencing a normal reaction to an abnormal event, so we may not have all the answers, but we can help people find ways to slow down, take things one day at a time, and help reduce anxiety and stress.
For anyone who may benefit from additional support, we are able to connect members with therapists providing telecounseling or virtual visits at this time. If our members are already seeing therapists but are unable to visit in person, we are helping to transition to video to get the care they need.
If someone is interested in beginning to work with a therapist, we highly recommend telecounseling, video, texting or chat platforms right now for counseling, and we are seeing an increasing number of therapists shifting to this model in the current environment. Having piloted an initiative last year, we are now able to connect people with therapists within 24 hours. It is important to provide people with options right now to connect with support in the way that works best for them and meets them where they are.
These are difficult times for many of us, and we are committed to supporting our members and their mental health and well-being as we navigate this challenging situation together.